I used to think “dick pics” and casual encounters were only things that happened in politics or the oval office but this past year has showed me that it doesn’t require a law degree to join this subversive club, only an iPhone and high speed internet.
When I first moved back to Los Angeles from San Francisco I began to see a handsome and charming man who we shall call Richard (see what I did there?). We did the usual twenty-something courtship: whiskey infused nights and coy text messaging until we ran out of jokes and whiskey and decided to make it official. Richard had shared with me his history of sexual exploration. I was no blind fool to his past internet relationships that centered around auto-arousal and pictures of body parts that mommy and daddy taught us to keep to ourselves. However, I believed these tales were stories of the past. I believed that Richard had long ago stopped taking “dick selfies” and traded in his casual encounter membership for something more economical, like a girl in his neighborhood- honestly, who can afford to travel for sex outside of their zip code with gas prices so high?
Let me tell you now reader(s)…is anyone reading this? I was wrong.
What did I do when I found out my boyfriend was sending little Richard pics? I didn’t flip out- I got single and I got a Tinder. I also got to researching.
I’m not sure how much time you’ve spent in the Casual Encounter section of Craigslist but it’s a lot like e-bay for sexual burners- no cash accepted but always willing to trade. In the W4M of Los Angeles’s Westside tab it is not uncommon to see a post entitled “looking for some outdoor or backseat fun” in which a lonely lover seeks “someone to smoke with and have a little fun”. In order for this pleasure seeker to know their responder is real and not spam a photo is required. DICK PIC, this is your que!
The exchange here is simple: you bring the weed and good times and this self-described slender blonde will bring the pleasure. And boys, just in case you were wondering it’s “nsa” (no strings attached- for those of you new to the Craigslist lingo I’m telling you here to save you the embarrassment I felt when I had to Google this generation defining acronym).
The more I researched Craigslist’s casual section the less hurt and upset I became. Instead I began to question the roles of love, sex, and commitment in this technology driven age. We live in a world of social networks which has it’s blessings and it’s curses. A complaint I often hear myself and others make is that it is difficult to stay in the present, it is near impossible to maintain a committed relationship, and there is a general loneliness and dissatisfaction that permeates our lives be it social or private. I believe these feelings stem directly from our individual contact with social media. We are constantly “socializing” in a hyper reality. We know we have friends (look at my friend count on Facebook) but sometimes on Friday the phone doesn’t ring and everyone on
Facebook seems to be out at some fabulous hotel roof party or the coolest dive bar on the East Side.
It is this hyper reality that has allowed for the success of Tinder? Again, I was slightly blindsided when I first signed up for this shallow card game. I figured it was a unique way to see and possibly meet local individuals. Turns out many of my peers use this app purely for sex. Is it that we are all really that horny? Or has this app become the number one wing man for so many because it exists in a sort of parallax? Tinder is fantasy and at times transitions into reality while maintain the new ideal of an “nsa” encounter. My favorite taglines on Tinder are the ones that say “willing to say we met at Whole Foods”. I like these tag lines because they suggest that maybe a second encounter would be possible and the first encounter may have been deep enough that a narrative would have to be formed. But they also demonstrate the embarrassment and judgment associated with apps like Tinder.
Here’s the truth: sexuality should be something to celebrate. Life is tough and often full of rejection, it’s good to feel desirable. Simply put, it’s good to feel good. While I can not generalize, for my observation pool is simply 1, I believe that this trend of genital pictures (as my grandmother may call it) and the trend of dating websites/hook up apps is so prevalent in society right now because we are all looking for a quick fix, something sweet at the end of a salty day. Also, it’s nice to have someone (anyone) to text on a lonely Friday night, even if they’re a stranger.
My Facebook feed in the past 12 months has turned into something of a family scrap book, engagement announcements, and photos of drunk friends. It’s this weird combination of events and this mix of people all around the same age that has led me to make this blog. Judgments have been put on the back burner, questions have moved to the front. Because the truth is I’m a twenty-something trying to make sense of her hyper reality and actual world.
*Richard for the record never actually followed through on an any casual encounters and I’m sure he would like me to tell you it’s not because of the aesthetics of his penis but because he wanted fantasy to stay out of reality…turns out no strings attached is a theory with many tangled strings.
*The author would also like to state that she has not and will not be using Tinder for sex and she has actually made 2 new platonic friends via the app!